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NJ gun rights martyr facing attempted murder charge


Good Monday morning!

Remember Brian Aitken? He became a cause celebre for the gun rights movement in New Jersey after being convicted for transporting guns he had legally bought in Colorado. He served four months of what would have been a lengthy prison sentence until then-Gov. Christie in 2010 commuted his sentence. An appeals court threw out two out of his three convictions, and Christie pardoned him for the third in one of his last acts in office.

This weekend we learned via The Courier-Post that Aitken, who lives in Colorado, has been charged with 1st degree attempted murder over a “shooting incident” in Telluride. A follow-up article in NJ Advance Media had a few more details, like Aitken’s lawyer claiming he shot someone in self-defense and that he’s not currently in custody. How that squares with the seriousness of the charge, I don’t know.

There was a lot of press about his ordeal in New Jersey, even a few years ago. But it’s an interesting development for someone considered “the face of those wrongly targeted by N.J. gun laws.”

WHERE’S MURPHY? In Trenton for a 1 p.m. coronavirus press conference. Media: MSNBC at 8 a.m., CNN at 8:30 a.m.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I walk around for lunch and there’s a sign painted on the wall that says ‘Bullies go home,’ … Well if the bullies should go home, then about half my class should go home, because I see incidents of bullying every day. Boys treating girls like objects, boys treating other boys like objects.” — a 15-year-old Wall High School student

HAPPY BIRTHDAY — Assemblymember Dan Benson, Kivvit’s Joe Libutti, former EPA Region II Administrator Alan Steinberg

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A message from Unite Us:

In preparation for HealthyNJ2030, Unite Us’ end-to-end solution is uniquely suited to address the social determinants of health. Unite Us has partnered with state governments, healthcare providers, social care providers, and community-based organizations across 42 states. Our secure technology platform enables electronic referrals between providers to address people’s social needs and improve health across communities. Let’s work together to build a healthier New Jersey. Learn more at UniteUs.com.

SHEETZ’S SECRET AGENT IN NJ DEALS DEMS DAMAGE IN WAWALAND — “Meet the political operative who helped lead Murphy to a second term as N.J. governor,” by NJ Advance Media’s Matt Arco: “Technically, Mollie Binotto is a Yinzer. That’s slang for someone from Pittsburgh. She moved to the Pennsylvania city when she was 2, spent much of her youth there, and is proudly a Steelers fan. But it’s no stretch to call Binotto a New Jerseyan, too — at least a part-time one. She was born in Elizabeth and still has plenty of family in the Garden State. ‘I’ve always known the culture of this place and (the people) who live here,’ Binotto said. That’s been a benefit to some of Jersey’s biggest politicians. At only 36, the political operative has now helmed three successful campaigns in the state. The most recent was the biggest one yet: Binotto was the campaign manager who helped Gov. Phil Murphy win a second term earlier this month. Murphy’s closer-than-expected victory made him the first Democratic governor to be re-elected in New Jersey in 44 years.”

THE FOLLOW THROUGH — “What did Gov. Murphy do right in the last 4 years, where has he failed? Black and brown people tell us,” by NJ Advance Media’s Ande Richards: “When I spoke with Cuqui Rivera of the Latino Action Network, she said policy informs how people will vote and Murphy passed legislation that afforded 83,000 people on probation and parole to be able to vote. She also notes that he enacted several pieces of impressive legislation including the driver’s license legislation, the 15-hour minimum wage, and family sick leave. She says he’s been a major force in progressing vulnerable communities. Her praise came with a caveat. ‘He’s signed major laws into effect,’ she said. ‘But the implementation of these bills is not being looked at. It’s not being complied with and that needs to be looked at right now.’ According to Rivera, the governor needs to pay more attention to his staff and people put in place to see legislation through to implementation.”

COMPARABLE TO IDAHO’S BUDGET, BUT WE GET NO POTATOES — Port Authority’s proposed budget: No toll increases for cars or fare hikes for PATH riders, by POLITICO’s Ry Rivard: The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s next budget proposal, a $7.9 billion spending plan for 2022, does not raise tolls for most drivers or fares for PATH riders, and projects air traffic will return to about 90 percent of pre-pandemic levels. The budget, which was posted Thursday after a Port Authority board meeting, expects shipping volumes to remain higher than previously imagined but lower than in parts of 2021, and anticipates bridge and tunnel traffic to return to levels achieved before the pandemic. The proposed $3.4 billion operating budget is 6.6 percent higher than this year’s austere spending plan, which was approved in December 2020 amid an economy upended by the global pandemic.

REMOTE ACCESS — “NJ Supreme Court seeks a new look in the conduct of cases,” by NJ Spotlight News’ Colleen O’Dea: “All criminal jury trials should be held in person, while some other court actions will continue virtually in a post-COVID-19 world, the New Jersey Supreme Court said Thursday. In its order, the court gave judges the ultimate discretion in the conduct of other matters. But it said business such as juvenile delinquency matters, sentencing hearings, significant municipal trials and hearings involving guardianships or the termination of parental rights should occur in courtrooms as well, unless all parties agree to virtual hearings. The order also notes that courts have been able to conduct significant business remotely since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the state in mid-March 2020 and it makes sense to continue to conduct a wide array of matters virtually. These include routine motion arguments, first appearances for those in custody, landlord-tenant proceedings and uncontested divorces.”

—New Jersey school districts to split $75M in construction funding

—“N.J. students learning English are being ‘ignored,’ report finds”

—Mulshine: “Hey Bud, whatever happened to marijuana legalization?”

—“Friendly Fire: Christie’s comeback (cont.), Ciattarelli’s next move, and apportionment tips”

—“Guardian’s election brings LGBT representation back to Statehouse”

— “N.J. state senators more likely to die in office than win election as governor”

NJ DEMS: FROM BRENDAN BYRNE TO MONTGOMERY BYRNES — “Tax deduction that benefits the rich divides Democrats before vote,” by The New York Times’ Alan Rappeport and Patrick McGeehan: “A plan by House Democrats to reduce taxes for high earners in states like New Jersey, New York and California in their $1.85 trillion social policy spending package is becoming an early political albatross for the party, with Republicans already mobilizing to accuse Democrats of defying their populist principles in favor of cutting taxes for the rich. The criticism offers a preview of the emerging battle lines ahead of next year’s midterm elections and underscores the challenge that Democrats face when local politics collide with the party’s national ambitions to promote economic equity. For Republicans who have defended their 2017 tax cuts, which overwhelmingly benefited the wealthy, the proposal by Democrats to raise the limit on the state and local tax deduction is an opportunity to flip the script and cast Democrats as the party of plutocrats. ‘I think they’re struggling to maintain their professed support for taxing the wealthy, yet they are providing a huge tax windfall under the SALT cap,’ said Representative Kevin Brady of Texas, the top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, referring to the acronym for state and local taxes.”

—“SALT cap increase approved by U.S. House, now heads to Senate. What may change”

GOTT-MORE-MONEY-THAN-A-KEAN-HEIMER — “Kean discloses how much he’s worth and Democrats cry foul in already hot N.J. congressional race,” by NJ Advance Media’s Jonathan D. Salant: “Tom Kean Jr., who is seeking the Republican nomination to take on Rep. Tom Malinowski for a second time, would be the second richest member of the state’s congressional delegation if he is elected to Congress next fall. Kean’s federal financial disclosure report showed assets of at least $6.5 million, which would put him behind only Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-5th Dist., who had $8.8 million … But Kean’s stock trades have drawn criticism from Democrats. During the coronavirus pandemic last year, he sold at least $175,000 worth of stock, including in Johnson & Johnson, which developed one of the three approved vaccines to fight COVID-19. And earlier this year, the Kean Family Partnership, which he owns a one-third interest in, bought at least $15,000 worth of stock in Becton, Dickinson & Co., a Franklin Lakes-based medical company that produces COVID-19 tests, according to his federal financial disclosure form. Meanwhile, Republicans have been hammering Malinowski, D-7th Dist., for his own trades, accusing him of ‘pandemic profiteering.’”

—“Infrastructure bill can reshape N.J. from top to bottom, chamber leaders say”

—“NJEA’s statement on Kenosha verdict draws backlash on social media”

—Kelly: “A Jersey guy became a domestic terrorist at the Capitol. He’s paying for it”

A message from Unite Us:

EXCESSIVE FORCE — “3 Ewing cops indicted for stomping Black teen in 2018,” by The Trentonian’s Isaac Avilucea: “Three Ewing cops were indicted on federal charges Friday after they were caught on tape stomping and kicking snow in the face of a handcuffed Black teenager while he was prone on his stomach during an arrest in 2018. The indictment, unsealed Friday, charges Officers Matthew Przemieniecki, Justin Ubry and retired Lt. Michael Delahanty each with civil-rights deprivation under color of law for their roles in the Jan. 5, 2018 beatdown of a 16-year-old Black teenager from Burlington, according to the indictment obtained by The Trentonian. Delahanty, 51, of Robbinsville, and Przemieniecki, 43, of Hamilton, both face felonies carrying up to 10 years in the slammer if they’re convicted. Ubry, 33, of Burlington, is charged with a misdemeanor count carrying a maximum of a year in prison. All face fines ranging from $100,000 to $250,000 if convicted. Their actions are described in the indictment as ‘unreasonable and excessive.”

THERE WERE NO KNIVES INVOLVED NOR WERE THEY HANDCUFFED TOGETHER — “Video shows Paterson councilman Michael Jackson in fight with auto shop owner,” by The Paterson Press’ Joe Malinconico: “Councilman Michael Jackson engaged in a physical altercation with a 1st Ward auto shop owner last month while confronting the businessman about an alleged fire safety violation. A neighbor’s video recording of the Oct. 14 incident — first aired by WNBC News on Thursday — clearly showed Jackson throw two punches during the dispute. Jackson, 50, maintained he was defending himself after he said the man, 61-year-old Juan Parra, initiated the fight by striking him. Jackson cited a portion of the video prior to his punches that showed Parra’s arm moving near Jackson and Jackson’s head moving back … Parra gave a much different account. ‘He wanted to go inside my business and I said he can’t go inside,’ the auto shop owner said. ‘I closed the door and he punched me two times in the face.’”

—“Video shows Paterson councilman fight with auto shop owner”

COOPER’S FAIRY TALE — “A Camden plan that favors suburban commuters could kill downtown’s last retail street,” by The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Inga Saffron: “Rosemari Hicks was sure she had found the perfect spot for her independent cafe in early 2020 when she leased a vacant storefront on Camden’s Market Street. An art center and an outdoor beer garden had already opened nearby, joining a pharmacy and beloved fried-chicken joint … How long Market Street will be able to retain that neighborhood feeling is now in doubt. To the surprise of merchants and Cooper-Grant residents, the Camden Community Partnership, a development agency formerly known as the Cooper’s Ferry Partnership, has put forward a traffic plan that could make Market Street look and feel more like a highway than a walkable urban place. This isn’t just another story about auto-focused traffic engineers coming up with a misguided street design. The Partnership has strong ties to George E. Norcross … If implemented, the traffic plan, known as Alternative 7, could squeeze the life out of Market Street, the last viable downtown retail corridor in a place that frequently tops the list of poorest cities in America … The new traffic configuration would instead privilege suburban drivers, making it easier for them to cruise across town to the white-collar jobs in the offices that now dominate the waterfront — buildings constructed with the help of large tax subsidies. It’s the kind of plan that makes you wonder, Who is Camden really for?”

SOURCES: WATSON UNDER CONSIDERATION FOR ASSISTANT PROSECUTOR — “Sources: Holmes under consideration for Atlantic County prosecutor’s job,” by InsiderNJ: “Dr. Kim Holmes would make history if selected by the governor’s office to serve as Atlantic County prosecutor, and her name is in play for the law enforcement position, according to sources with knowledge of the process. Holmes has considerable respect within her field of expertise, and professional knowledge of the county and its environs.”

THAT MASQUERADE WAS A MASQUERADE! — “The Torres imbroglio,” by InsiderNJ’s John Van Vilet: ”Could former Paterson Mayor Jose ‘Joey’ Torres be using a costumed birthday party to conceal ambitions for an attempt to run for mayor, an office he is forbidden from holding? The Mazawey Law Firm, representing Charles Florio, a prominent developer who is no particular friend to Torres, wants the New Jersey Attorney General to investigate. Richard S. Mazawey, Esq. issued a letter dated November 11, asking the State Attorney General to investigate alleged fundraising activity which might be used to propel a 2022 mayoral race for Torres. Mazawey asserts in his letter that a masquerade birthday party, held at the Brownstone, was possibly used as a fundraiser under the guise of a 63rd birthday celebration.”

PANTS OFF, CAMERA OFF — “Asbury Park police probe why body cam shut off during coach incident,” by The Asbury Park Press’ Ken Sorrano: “The Asbury Park Police Department is investigating the handling of a trespassing call on Nov. 6 involving now-suspended high school football coach Nicholas Famularo by responding officers. Michael Casey, spokesman for the department, said the internal affairs investigation will determine whether one or more of the officers violated the department’s body camera policy, which follows state Attorney General guidelines. The camera or cameras were apparently shut off during the incident. In June, a law took effect in New Jersey requiring every uniformed patrol officer to have a body-worn camera while on duty and keep it on while dealing with the public except in certain cases … A call came into city police at 2:30 a.m. that morning reporting a disturbance and possible trespasser at the stadium. Officers found Famularo, 26, with his pants off as he covered the front lower half of his body with a football jersey, according to a one-minute video from a single body camera the Asbury Park Press obtained via a public records request.”

‘HEY KIDS, LEAVE THOSE KIDS ALONE’ —“Wall High School reported 43 bullying incidents in years before football team hazing investigation,” by NJ Advance Media’s Kelly Heyboer: “In the five years before an investigation into alleged hazing in the football team’s locker room, Wall High School reported 43 incidents of bullying, harassment and intimidation among its students, according to a review of state reports. The 43 incidents included confirmed cases in which students were bullied over their sexual orientation, disabilities, race and gender between the 2016-2017 and 2020-2021 school years, according to the reports filed with the state and outlined in the school district’s annual School Performance Reports.”

—“Jersey City officials collaborate with Fair Share Housing on new IZO with 10-15% affordable housing”

—“DEP says no immediate health risk in tainted Middlesex water”

—“Ex-Bordentown cop admits to crimes to protect ex-chief Nucera”

—“In latest legal salvo, fired Englewood Cliffs official says she’ll sue for $11 million”

—“NJ Pinelands preserve will more than double in size with the addition of 200 acres

—“Hudson County Correctional Facility Director Edwards announces end-of-year retirement”

—“Ocean County GOP Commissioners Kelly and Haines, Sheriff Mastronardy to seek reelection”

—“With $3.77M federal grant, Paterson police can expand ranks”

—“N.J.’s two Asbury Parks turn 150 | Opinion”

—“Newark scoops up space for school expansion. Will its gamble pay off?”

PROROASTED — “In a rare move, Rutgers-Camden faculty vote no confidence in its chancellor and provost,” by The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Susan Snyder: “In a move faculty couldn’t remember happening before on their campus, arts and sciences professors at Rutgers-Camden approved a vote of no-confidence in the chancellor who has been on the job only since July. The move by the majority of faculty in the arts and sciences school — the largest of the four at Rutgers-Camden — came three weeks after chancellor Antonio D. Tillis removed the dean of the school, riling faculty who continue to question why such an abrupt change was necessary. A separate no-confidence vote also was approved against the provost, Daniel Hart. The votes carry no weight other than serving as a symbolic measure of how dissatisfied faculty have become with the chancellor.”

HIRE ED — “What did Rutgers know about top neurosurgeon now under investigation before hiring him at $2.2M?” by NJ Advance Media’s Ted Sherman: “Dr. Anil Nanda was hailed as a ‘transformational leader’ when he was recruited three years ago to head up the Department of Neurosurgery at Rutgers University’s two medical schools. University officials in their praise of Nanda, lured by a $2.2 million salary that made him one of the highest paid employees on the payroll, said that he would advance Rutgers’ preeminence in the neurosciences. But the university never retained any consultants or recruiting firms to conduct any due diligence into Nanda’s background before he was offered a contract, it acknowledged in a response to a public records request by NJ Advance Media — a background check that might have picked up clues as to why he was so abruptly demoted from his last job. Now, the high-profile neurosurgeon is on administrative leave in the wake of allegations in connection with so-called ‘ghost surgeries’ that surfaced last week.”

THE REMAINS TURNED OUT TO BE DAVID HASSELHOFF’S CAREER – “FBI looks at land near NJ landfill for Jimmy Hoffa’s remains,” by The AP’s Deepti Hajela and Ed White: “FBI looks at land near NJ landfill for Jimmy Hoffa’s remains,” by The AP: “The decadeslong odyssey to find the remains of Jimmy Hoffa, a tenacious leader of the Teamsters union, apparently has turned to land next to a former New Jersey landfill that sits below an elevated highway. The FBI obtained a search warrant to ‘conduct a site survey underneath the Pulaski Skyway,’ said Mara Schneider, a spokeswoman for the Detroit field office.”

—“Report: New Jersey’s highways are the worst — and costliest — in the nation”

A message from Unite Us:

How can we increase collaboration across sectors to connect individuals to the social care they need? How can we improve relationships between organizations and work together more efficiently to make New Jersey a healthier state?

Unite Us has partnered with state governments, healthcare providers, social care providers, and community-based organizations across 42 states. In New Jersey, our mission is to improve coordinated care, track meaningful outcomes, and address the social determinants of health. With Unite Us, our secure technology platform empowers organizations to exchange closed-loop referrals and improve health across communities.

Tracking outcomes, identifying service gaps and at-risk populations, and empowering members of our local communities to take ownership of their own health, together we can address health equity gaps more effectively and connect individuals with the care they need.

We’d love to have a conversation with you. Connect with us at UniteUs.com/contact.


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